Imputing Away the Ladder: Implications of Changes in National Accounting Standards for Assessing Inter-country Inequalities

Research output: Working paper



Publication details

DatePublished - 2 Nov 2018
PublisherESRC GPID Research Network
Number of pages44
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameESRC GPID Research Network Working Paper Series
No. 14


While different approaches to studying economic convergence abound, the use of GDP to measure economic growth has, remarkably, gone unquestioned. This paper reviews the implications of changes to the international standard for constructing GDP for debates on convergence and economic development . We argue that changes to the production boundary over the past three decades constitute a form of ‘kicking away the ladder,’ i.e. redefining the yardstick of development to fit recent strengths of advanced economies. Earlier versions of GDP show a larger and faster convergence of most countries in ‘the Rest’ with those of ‘the West’. Furthermore, developing countries have caught up more in terms of ‘Core GDP’ - including only those activities for which an independent measure of output exists - than in terms of the imputation-heavy measure of GDP. Finally, the paper considers the political economy implications of the changes in GDP methodology.

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